These little piggies stay home

Caitlin Tompkins
The Daily Herald
In this Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 photo, Brett Banks picks up Norman, one of three pigs he owns, at home in Everett, Wa. Banks says Norman, who is not a boar as one person reported, is the friendliest and will walk up to people with a wag in his tail.

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — They are far from wild boars.

The three pigs stick their heads out of car windows. They eat Cheerios off of the kitchen floor and snuggle on the couch. On sunny days, they run around Legion Memorial Park in north Everett.

A passerby spotted one of the pigs, named Norman, munching on grass in front of a small white home recently. He took video, thinking that what looked like a boar had escaped.

Brett Banks, 35, had let Norman outside to play. The 35-pound miniature pig with charcoal-colored bristles doesn't stray far from the house. He is the trustworthy one among the three pigs. The others can be escape artist "Houdinis," who sometimes dig underneath the backyard fence in hopes of freedom, Banks said.

He watched the driver record a video on his phone. He didn't think much of it.

In this Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 photo, Brett Banks at home with pigs, Dottie, Hamlin, being feed a treat, and Norman in Everett, Wa. The licensed pigs have made some neighbors upset but he says they're friendly. "Norman will walk right up to you with his snout in the air and wiggle his tail," Banks said.

People often stop by to pet the animals. An elementary school bus driver slows down while passing Banks' house so the kids can catch a glimpse of the pigs. A neighbor has brought over bags full of squash and apples.

As a boy growing up in Lake Stevens, Banks begged his parents to adopt a pig. Years later, he welcomed home three little pigs to his house.

Dottie, the only girl, chats back and forth with Norman. They were born a week apart. Hamlin, the youngest of the group, is a squealer. Norman doesn't hesitate when it comes to making new friends.

"Norman will walk right up to you with his snout in the air and wiggle his tail," Banks said.

He has taught them tricks. They sit and spin around in a circle in exchange for treats consisting of popcorn, cereal and vegetables. In the summertime, Banks fills a pool in the backyard so the pigs can cool off.

A breeder in Snohomish calls him the "pig whisperer." He can persuade any pig to go into a pen. The breeder refers people to Banks if they are uncertain about adopting a pig. He walks them through what it takes to care for and train them.

A license is required to own swine within the city of Everett. Banks' license has expired, but the animal shelter plans to work with him on renewing it, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.

Not everyone on Banks' street is married to the idea of having pigs as neighbors.

Some have called the police. A handful of homeowners filed a petition with the city last spring, hoping to move the pigs elsewhere.

For Banks, they're loyal pets. However, he did learn that newly planted ferns don't last long with grazing pigs around.

"They're not for everyone," he said. "You either like them or you hate them."

Banks said if he could do it all over again he would become a veterinarian.

He has plans to buy five acres of land in Arlington or Stanwood. He hopes to adopt goats, ducks, geese and perhaps a miniature horse or donkey.

The farm would be a home to runaway pigs, he said.